Manchester/Bath UK Journal Day 1
Chicago, IL Airport
I can’t decide what of this journal I want to hold on to for the article, and what part I want to publish on the blog. I feel like the introduction I wrote earlier in Evansville was just that: an introduction to the article, and thus, I can’t justify putting it/publicizing it/publishing it, even, on the blog. This, however, is more informal, and perhaps I’ll cut and paste this on The Postmodern Bluestocking when I get to Manchester and thus get to Wifi. What I do know is this: I have several more hours to sit in this airport and wait for my 8 hour flight, and that seems like an awfully long time indeed, especially when I get to Manchester at 7:45 a.m., have to go through Customs, and then possibly wait until my room is ready at the Guesthouse.
I exchanged my money earlier, and it was a terrible exchange rate. Why can’t it ever be affordable to go to the UK? I basically received half of what I exchanged, dollars to pounds.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking: I’m scared. I am not an adventurous person by nature, which means that, by nature, I am a scared person. I don’t like new experiences, not really, even when new experiences mean, well, new experiences. But I know that I need to get beyond this aspect of myself because life is comprised of new experiences. Without new experiences, one imagines that one has no luck getting forward in life. Therefore, I have decided, I will treat this as An Adventure.
What does it mean to go on an adventure? My dear friend Sunny called me Bilbo yesterday, telling me that the world doesn’t happen in my books alone. I confess, Gentle Reader, that I’ve never read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but I understood enough of the comparison to get what she was saying. I know that “not all who wander are lost,” but I wonder if those of us who aren’t wanderers are doomed to become lost in the process.
I’ve been thinking of this as a research trip, but I think instead, I need to think of it as what it truly is: a Literary Pilgrimage. That sounds awfully more like an adventure than a research trip. That sounds like I’m an Intrepid Explorer, branching out into the world at large to see things I’ve never seen before. And it’s true, I am. Even though I’ve been to Manchester, even stayed at this exact Guesthouse, I am looking at it through new eyes. These eyes have three years of experience over the eyes of 2011, the last time I was in Manchester. These eyes are looking for a new research experience, exploring Literary Tourism in the world of Elizabeth Gaskell and Jane Austen. These eyes, I must imagine, need to be open to possibility.
What does it mean to be open to possibility? Does it mean that I am to talk to strangers? Walk down deserted alleyways? Or perhaps just be a different Amy than the Amy that currently exists here, in the relative safety of the U.S.? There is something daunting about traveling to a foreign country, leaving one’s soil for the exploration of the world beyond. Even though I am going where they speak the same language, it’s still different. It’s still Not The Same.
At lunch today in the Chicago airport, I didn’t hide behind a book or fiddle with my phone. I just ate. I sat and watched and ate while not hiding behind a prop, not absorbing my attention with a novel. And it’s true, one of my favorite things to do is to read and eat, a habit long since built from being an only child, and living alone for so long. When my Darling Husband and I eat, we don’t do so at a table but on the couch, watching television. We are distracted from our food and even, perhaps, each other. But today, I eschewed all props and instead focused on the food in front of me, the people around me, and the Adventure I was about to have.
I am going to have an Adventure.
If I declare it, does it make it so?